The "Our View" from the East Oregonian on Sept. 1 begins by calling the peaceful demonstration in Pendleton on Aug. 29 "something of a change" because it didn't descend into violence, lamenting that such protests are "uncommon nowadays."
That's a pretty incredible statement from a trusted news source! Yet, a recent analysis by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) concluded that more than 93% of all Black Lives Matter demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd, in over 2,400 locations throughout the country, were nonviolent.
It also failed to acknowledge the role police response has played in escalating violence at protests in cities where heavy-handed tactics have been documented, such as indiscriminate use of tear gas, close-range use of so-called "less-lethal" munitions, and beatings. Nor is there mention of agents provocateurs, like the very first instance of property damage in Minneapolis that authorities now say were perpetrated by a 32-year-old white supremacist.
The editorial then waxes condescendingly about how all these "violent protests" diminish the message against police brutality and systemic racism; that the "noble cause" is ignored when protests become less peaceful — as if we, as a nation, hadn't just spent the last four years arguing whether Colin Kaepernick silently taking a knee was sufficiently respectful of the troops instead of the validity of his point.
If that wasn't enough, the op-ed makes an attempt at inspiration that, especially in this context, comes off spectacularly obtuse: "We are not descended from fearful men but from people who created a whole new nation out of thin air." This stunning bit of revisionist history leaves out those descended from people owned by these men. The United States did not magically emerge from the ether in some Lin-Manuel Miranda musical number — it was founded by destructive protests and violent revolution over taxes and built by the enslavement of one race and the genocide of another.
If you want to encourage nonviolent civic engagement, great! Just say that! Gaslighting readers like this is one reason that, despite the overwhelming majority of millions of BLM demonstrators behaving peaceably, a recent poll found that 42% of respondents falsely believe “most protesters are trying to incite violence or destroy property.”
I was at the Aug. 29 demonstration. The behavior of the BLM protesters should be lauded, as should Chief Roberts for bucking the trend of dressing his officers like stormtroopers. It seems the thing mostly ignored by the moral arbiters of effective demonstration at the EO was the counterprotesters’ intimidation tactics masquerading as their Second Amendment rights.
This letter is my peaceful protest of the editorial board’s "both-siderism." I had initially planned to loot all the tea from the EO break room and dump it in the Umatilla River, but I was afraid they’d ignore my point.